New Delhi/Lucknow: Attacks and counterattacks continued unabated Monday with BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi playing the caste card to target the Congress’ Nehru-Gandhi family of “insulting daliton ka devta (the god of dalits)”, a reference to Dr B.R. Ambedkar, known as the father of the Indian Constitution, whose birth anniversary fell on that day.
As Mr Modi tried to woo the backward votebank and attacked the Gandhi clan at Lakhimpur Kheri in UP, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, speaking at Latur in Maharashtra, launched a counterattack by ridiculing Mr Modi’s so-called Gujarat model as a “toffee model”, saying it had benefited only one industrialist in the state, and ignored the interests of farmers and the poor.
And sensing that Mr Modi was trying to encroach on her dalit votebank, BSP supremo Mayawati accused him of telling “lies” and claimed the BJP was an “elitist” party.
“When elections come, they see dalits as Hindus, but later they don’t even like to sit with them.”
She also added that the BJP had been “unhappy” when Dr Ambedkar had been conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
Mr Modi, meanwhile, speaking at a rally in Sikar, warned the Congress not to “throw muck”, saying: “Congress people are these days throwing muck and are using undemocratic and unconstitutional language. But the more you throw muck, the more the lotus will bloom.”
Attacking Rahul for “distorting facts” and “humiliating” Dr Ambedkar, Mr Modi said it was “unfortunate” that the Congress’ shehzada (Rahul) was saying it was the Congress that had given all rights to the people, whereas “all rights had been given to us by Dr Ambedkar, who wrote the Constitution”.
Mr Modi added: “The Congress has given three Bharat Ratnas in its own family, but had chosen to ignore the contribution of Dr Ambedkar for almost 40 years. He was given the Bharat Ratna when the BJP came to power. I belong to the most backward community, and if I am standing here today, it is only because of a person like Ambedkar who allowed the weaker sections of society to move ahead in life.”
Mr Gandhi, speaking in Latur, ridiculed the Gujarat model of development, saying it had benefited only one industrialist in the state, ignoring the interests of farmers and the poor.
He said while the BJP talks of empowering women in its campaign posters, its party activists along with RSS cadres beat up women going to pubs in Mangalore (Karnataka), and the Gujarat CM uses his powers and police machinery to tap the phone of a woman. In a jibe at Mr Modi, he said earlier in the BJP there “used to be partnership between Vajpayee and Advani”, while now the partnership is “between Modi and Adani”.
He claimed that a “land of Aurangabad’s size of 45,000 acres has been given for a mere Rs 300 crores. This is a toffee model, not Gujarat model. For Re 1, you get a toffee here. There land was sold at Re 1 per metre, It was the land of the poor and farmers.”
Mr Gandhi claimed that a loan of Rs 10,000 crore had been given to build the Nano car. This is more than what is spent on health and education in Gujarat. In a dig at the BJP’s campaign posters on empowering women, Mr Gandhi said 20,000 women are “missing” in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh.